Chicken Cordon Bleu

Chicken Cordon Bleu to rival any restaurant made at home!

This crunchy, flavorful Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe sounds and tastes fancy but is actually easy to prepare! Tender chicken breasts are stuffed with smokey ham, Gruyere or Swiss Cheese, rolled and breaded in lemon panko pistachio breading and then baked to nutty, smoky, cheesy golden perfection. If you like pistachios even just a little, you are going to go crazy for this spectacular breading! The baked Chicken Cordon Bleu is then smothered in creamy Honey Dijon Sauce for a bite after bite of flavor/texture heaven. I’ve included step by step photos of how to make Chicken Cordon Blue and how to prep ahead.

chicken cordon bleu sliced on a white pate

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Chicken Cordon Bleu Recipe

You better hold onto your socks because they are about to be knocked off with the BEST Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe AKA Pistachio Gruyere Chicken Cordon Bleu with Creamy Honey Dijon Sauce!

My mom’s delicious chicken cordon bleu is a staple on her company dinner rotation. It’s always met with an abundance of compliments accompanied by inconspicuous finger licking. With the holiday season coming up and more reasons to have company over for dinner or simply share a special dinner with your family, I wanted to elevate traditional chicken cordon bleu to heights that will make your soaring taste buds giddy.

This Pistachio Gruyere Chicken Cordon Bleu sounds fancy, but is quite simple to make; so simple that even though I had never made chicken cordon bleu before this year, I was almost shocked at how easy it was and how quickly it comes together! Simple and quick enough that it doesn’t just have to be for special occasions – thank goodness or you would be making up special occasions – weekly.

What is Cordon Bleu?

If you aren’t familiar with Chicken Cordon Blue, let me introduce you! Chicken Cordon bleu is a dish made of thinly pounded chicken, layered with cheese and thinly sliced ham which is then thinly rolled up, breaded and either pan fried or baked.

The earliest reference to Chicken Cordon Bleu is in the New York Times in 1967, but it no doubt dates much earlier. It originated from other veal/pork cordon bleu recipes from Switzerland dating back to around 1940.

What is the Bleu in Chicken Cordon Bleu?

Chicken Cordon Bleu sounds fancy because it is French term, but is actually pretty simple to make. In French, cordon bleu is translated to “blue ribbon” and refers to the blue ribbon worn by members of the highest order of knighthood in France in 1578.

This blue ribbon term has come to mean virtually anything of a very high standard. In the culinary world, it is reserved for food prepared to the highest standard – and chicken cordon bleu has earned the highest honor in it’s very name alone, so you know it has to be good!

chicken cordon bleu recipe with oozingg cheese

Ingredient Tips for Chicken Cordon Bleu

There are a few special ingredients that make this Chicken Cordon Bleu soar.  Here’s what you’ll need: 

For the Chicken

  • chicken: 4 chicken breast fillets (6-8 oz. each), pounded thin. Many chicken breasts are much larger than 6-8 oz, so you will need to slice 2 large chicken breasts in half through the equator to create 4 fillets.
  • Alternatively, you can purchase chicken breasts halves at Costco and other grocery stores.

FOR THE BREADING

The breading is made of finely ground pistachios mixed with Lemon Pepper Panko Breadcrumbs, basil, garlic and onion powder create a crispy, crunchy, nutty breading. If you like pistachios even a little, then I am very, very excited for you to try this new breading.

  • pistachios: You can purchase pistachios pre-shelled to save time
  • panko: are a Japanese breadcrumb and can be found next to the traditional/Italian breadcrumbs at your grocery store.  Panko breadcrumbs are lighter, larger and dryer than normal breadcrumbs so they absorb less moisture which produces a way crispier breading.  Please do NOT substitute with traditional breadcrumbs and expect the same results.   If you can’t find lemon pepper panko, then you can use regular panko with a dash of lemon pepper seasoning.
  • seasonings: you will need dried basil, garlic and onion powder to infuse the exterior breading with flavor.

For The Wash

Typical breading techniques include coating the chicken in an egg wash so that the breading will stick. Instead, in this Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe, we use a combination Dijon, honey and olive oil for more tantalizing layers of flavor.

  • Dijon mustard: is made from fine ground hotter brown or black mustard seeds and white wine which give it a sharp, pungent flavor with a little heat. Please do NOT substitute with yellow deli mustard.
  • honey: any honey will do the trick.
  • olive oil: I use olive oil but you may substitute with your favorite neutral tasting oil.

For the filling

There are only two ingredients in the Chicken Cordon Bleu filling so it is important that they are flavorful!

  • ham: I recommend black forest ham. It adds a subtle, complex smokey flavor. You can purchase ham at the delic counter and ask them to slice it thinly.
  • cheese: the melty Gruyere cheese pushes this chicken cordon bleu over the top with its rich, creamy slightly nutty flavor.  Gruyere can be found with the specialty cheeses in your grocery store.
  • can I use a different cheese?: I highly recommend Gruyere but if you want to make this Chicken Cordon Bleu all the time and don’t want to purchase the cheese every time, you can substitute Swiss cheese.  But let me give you one more reason to buy Gruyere cheese: Herbed Gruyere Scalloped Potatoes and Bacon Au Gratin.  That should do it.

FOR THE Chicken Cordon Bleu Sauce

This sauce is one of the best parts of the dish. It is finger licking, spoon licking good. You will use some of the same ingredients you used earlier. You will need:

  • heavy cream: you may substitute half and half but you will need to simmer longer until thickened and reduced
  • cornstarch: promotes quick thickening of the sauce
  • Dijon mustard: same mustard used in the wash
  • spicy brown mustard: I LOVE this addition but if you don’t have it on hand you can use Dijon and add additional hot sauce to taste
  • honey: same type of honey used in the wash
  • seasonings: dried basil, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper – no bland Chicken Cordon Bleu here!

How to Make Chicken Cordon Ble

Step 1: Prepare Chicken

  • Why pound chicken? Even though Chicken Cordon Bleu starts with thin chicken fillets, it is important that they are pounded to a thin, even thickness for two main reasons:  1) it tenderizes the chicken as it breaks up the tissues, 2) the uniform thickness allows the chicken of different sizes to cook evenly and much quicker.
  • How to pound chicken:
    • I like to place my chicken in freezer bags (2 at a time) as opposed to in between parchment paper but you can use whatever you have on hand. 
    • Take care to use the smooth side of the meat mallet when pounding chicken.  If you don’t have a meat mallet you can use the side of a can. 
    • We are aiming for 1/4-1/2-inch but 1/4” is preferable because 1/4” chicken is ultra tender. 

Step 2: Make Breading

  • Finely grind pistachios in food processor.
  • Transfer to a bowl and mix with Panko and seasonings.
showing how to make chicken cordon bleu by adding breading ingredients to a food processor
showing how to make  easy chicken cordon bleu by processing breading in food processor

Step 3: Make Wash

  • In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons honey, and 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Step 4: Layer Chicken

  • Lay 1 slice of ham over each chicken breast then sprinkle evenly with cheese.
showing how to make chicken cordon bleu by pounding chicken thin and lining with ham and cheese

Step 5: Roll up Chicken

  1. Fold in the edges of the ham over the cheese as you roll the chicken up (to keep the cheese from oozing out). Secure chicken roll with toothpicks.
showing how to make chicken cordon bleu by rolling up chicken and securing with toothpicks

Step 6: Bread Chicken

  • Coat chicken in prepared honey/Dijon/olive oil. Not only does this Honey Dijon bath provide the perfect adhesive for the Pistachio Lemon Pepper Panko breading, it keeps the chicken moist while ensuring every cheesy pistachio, chicken, ham bite is complimented with honey and Dijon.
  • Dredge rolled up chicken in Pistachio breading, turning and pressing crumbs firmly into chicken.
showing how to make best chicken cordon bleu by dreading chicken in breadcrumbs

Step 7: Bake Chicken

  • Bake the Chicken Cordon Bleu until golden while you prepare your Creamy Honey Dijon Sauce.  
  • You’ll want to check the last 10 minutes of cooking to make sure the breading isn’t browning to quickly. You may need to top with foil to prevent excess browning.
  • On the other end of the spectrum if the breading isn’t browned by end of baking, broil until golden.
showing how to make easy chicken cordon bleu by adding adding chicken to baking sheet to bake

Step 8: Make Chicken Cordon Bleu Sauce

  • The Creamy Honey Dijon Sauce is made by simply simmering heavy cream, Dijon, spicy brown mustard, honey, paprika, cornstarch and some spices until warmed through.
  • Pour the Creamy Honey Dijon Sauce over the Pistachio Chicken oozing with gooey Gruyere cheese and hot roasted ham and its time to knock some socks off.
showing how to make chicken cordon bleu sauce by adding honey

TIPS FOR CHICKEN CORDON BLEU RECIPE

  • Pound chicken to an even thickness:  Make sure your chicken is an even thickens so it baked evenly otherwise you will be left with partially dry/overdone chicken OR underdone chicken. 
  • Prepare your baking sheet before you start breading the chicken.   You’ll want to rest your chicken on the baking rack as your finish breading it – this will help it not get soggy.  Don’t forget to spray your pan with nonstick cooking spray! 
  • Pan fry panko.  For the ULTIMATE crunchy Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe, toast the panko before you use it in the breading.  This is one extra step but really the only way to make it golden.  Melt one tablespoon butter in a small saucepan.  Add panko and cook, while stirring until golden.  
  • Dredge chicken completely and evenly.  Press the breading into the chicken so it sticks and check for any bare patches.
  • Use two hands when breading chicken.    Use one hand to touch the wet chicken and place it in the breading and the other hand to push the breading into the chicken. This ensures the breading doesn’t get gummy because gummy breading = not as crunchy Chicken Cordon Bleu.
  • Don’t Crowd the Pan. Leave a decent space between your chicken on the baking rack while cooking.  Overcrowding the pan will cause steam and make your breading soggy.  When nicely spaced, the hot oven air can circulate evenly around the chicken so they can get nice and crispy .
  • Consistency of Chicken Cordon Bleu Sauce. Simmer the sauce until it reaches desired consistency – simmer for longer for thicker sauce and less time for thinner sauce. If your sauce gets too thick upon standing, then thin with a little milk or chicken broth.

WHAT do you eat with CORDON BLEU?

This Chicken Cordon Bleu is a show stopper and doesn’t require any fancy sides. It pairs beautifully with a simple green salad, some fruit and crusty bread. Still, if you are looking for more scrumptious options, here are some of my favs:

Potatoes:

Veggies:

Salads

Bread:

Bonus:

Million Dollar Macaroni and Cheese

baked chicken cordon bleu recipe on a plate with chicken cordon bleu sauce

Cordon Bleu recipe variations

Once you understand the technique of chicken cordon bleu, you can make all sorts of variations of cordon blue. Here are just a few:

  • HAM: Substitute the black forest ham for honey baked ham or for bacon or prosciutto
  • CHEESE: Substitute the Gruyere for Swiss or provolone for more traditional flavor or get wild and go cheddar, pepper Jack, cream cheese, etc.
  • BREADCRUMBS:  You can swap the pistachios for any other nut such as pecans or almonds. You can also omit them completely and just use panko breadcrumbs.

CAN I MAKE CHICKEN CORDON BLEU RECIPE AHEAD OF TIME?

Chicken Cordon Bleu Chicken is best if completely assembled right before baking (so the breading doesn’t get mushy), but you can still prep most of the recipe.

To prep ahead:

  • Breading: make the breading mixture up to one week ahead of time and store in an airtight container. 
  • Chicken: roll up the chicken and brush with honey/dijon/olive oil and cover with foil/plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  • Assemble: When it’s time to bake the cordon bleu, all you have to do is dredge the chicken and pop it in the oven!

HOW TO STORE CHICKEN CORDON BLEU

Chicken Cordon Bleu should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  When properly stored, it is good for 3 to 5 days.   When storing, don’t stack your chicken for best results as this will make it more soggy.  Instead, place a piece of parchment paper in between the layers. Reheated chicken will still be flavorful but not as crunchy as freshly baked.

HOW TO FREEZE CHICKEN CORDON BLEU RECIPE CHICKEN

You you can freeze the Chicken Cordon Bleu before or after baking:

  • Leave/place crusted chicken on the lightly greased baking rack (so they aren’t touching) and place in the freezer for 2-3 hours or until solid.
  • Transfer to a large ziploc bag and squeeze out any excess air.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months. 
  • Bake straight from frozen (so they don’t get as soggy) at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until chicken reaches 165 degrees F.
easy chicken cordon bleu recipe on a plate with chicken cordon bleu sauce and mashed potatoes

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

Pistachio Gruyere Chicken Cordon Bleu with Creamy Honey Dijon Sauce

Chicken Cordon Bleu to rival any restaurant made at home! This Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe sounds and tastes fancy but is actually easy to prepare! Tender chicken breasts are stuffed with smokey ham, Gruyere or Swiss Cheese, rolled and breaded in lemon panko pistachio breading and then baked to nutty, smoky, cheesy golden perfection. If you like pistachios even just a little, you are going to go crazy for this spectacular breading! The Chicken Cordon Bleu is then smothered in creamy Honey Dijon Sauce for a bite after bite of flavor/texture heaven. I've included step by step photos of how to make Chicken Cordon Blue and how to prep ahead.
Servings: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts fillets (6-8 oz. each) pounded thin
  • 4 slices Black Forest ham
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

Pistachio Breading

Honey Dijon Cream Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp EACH salt, paprika, garlic pwdr, onion pwdr,
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Hot sauce to taste

Instructions

  • Top a baking tray with a baking rack and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Finely grind pistachios in food processor. Transfer to a bowl and mix with Panko, 1 teaspoon dried basil, ½ teaspoon garlic powder and ½ teaspoon onion powder. In a separate bowl, mix 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons honey, and 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  • Lay 1 slice of ham over each chicken breast then sprinkle evenly with cheese. Fold in the edges of the ham over the cheese as you roll the chicken up (to keep the cheese from oozing out). Secure chicken roll with toothpicks.
  • Coat chicken in prepared honey/Dijon/olive oil then dredge in Pistachio breading, turning and pressing crumbs firmly into chicken. Place chicken on prepared baking rack evenly spaced apart then spray with cooking spray.
  • Bake chicken at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until cooked through, checking chicken the last 10 minutes and topping with foil if necessary to prevent excess browning. If not browned by end of baking, broil until golden.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together all of the Honey Dijon Cream Sauce ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer until slightly thickened.
  • To serve, spoon sauce over chicken. Season with freshly cracked salt and pepper to taste (optional).

Notes

*You can purchase pistachios pre-shelled to save time **Panko breadcrumbs are Japanese breadcrumbs can be found by the Italian bread crumbs. If you can't find lemon pepper panko, then you can use regular Panko with a dash of lemon pepper seasoning.

MAKE AHEAD 

Chicken Cordon Bleu Chicken is best if completely assembled right before baking (so the breading doesn't get mushy), but you can still prep most of the recipe.
To prep ahead:
  • Breading: make the breading mixture up to one week ahead of time and store in an airtight container.
  • Chicken: roll up the chicken and brush with honey/dijon/olive oil and cover with foil/plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  • Assemble: When it's time to bake the cordon bleu, all you have to do is dredge the chicken and pop it in the oven!

STORAGE

Chicken Cordon Bleu should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  When properly stored, it is good for 3 to 5 days.   When storing, don’t stack your chicken for best results as this will make it more soggy.  Instead, place a piece of parchment paper in between the layers. Reheated chicken will still be flavorful but not as crunchy as freshly baked.

HOW TO FREEZE 

You you can freeze the Chicken Cordon Bleu before or after baking:
  • Leave/place crusted chicken on the lightly greased baking rack (so they aren’t touching) and place in the freezer for 2-3 hours or until solid.
  • Transfer to a large ziploc bag and squeeze out any excess air.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Bake straight from frozen (so they don’t get as soggy) at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until chicken reaches 165 degrees F.

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37 Comments

  1. Rach @ Eazy Peazy Mealz says

    Socks officially knocked off. That cream starter looks fantastic too! I can’t wait to give this a try. We love pistachios over here.

  2. Thalia @ butter and brioche says

    This chicken cordon bleu is seriously all i am craving right now after seeing the images. I am definitely saving this dish to create, just need to get my hands on all the ingredients now!

    • Jen says

      You have great taste Thalia, this is definitely crave worthy! I am super excited for you to make it and hear what you think!

  3. shelby says

    Looks absolutely delicious. I love how you take your recipes to a different level!

  4. liz says

    your family must eat delicious everyday! you can invite me to dinner any time! 🙂

    • Jen says

      I would love to have you over any time! We do have a lot of fun over food 🙂

  5. liz says

    ive been looking for this dish on pinterest to pin it on my recipes, but I cannot find it any where

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Danielle! I’m honored you find it drool worthy 🙂 Can’t wait for you to make it!

  6. Lynn says

    I tried this recipe out last night along with the dijon maple green beans and both were FABULOUS!! Already daydreaming about having those leftovers for dinner 🙂 thanks for these great recipes!!

    • Jen says

      Awesome Lynn! I am thrilled you made and loved them both! yay! I hope you find more to love here 🙂 !

  7. Amy says

    I am having a heck of a time finding the lemon pepper bread crumbs at any of the grocery stores around town. I have looked at 3 big chain stores, my husband is going to look at Target tomorrow. If he can’t find any are these an absolute must or can I use normal panko & add a dash of lemon pepper seasoning?

    • Jen says

      oh Amy, I am so sorry! Yes, you can use regular bread crumbs with a dash of lemon pepper! I will add that to the notes. Enjoy!

  8. Cecilia says

    Would you pretty please suggest an alternative/substitute for the Swanson Cream Starter? I have checked 3 of the 4 (I called the 4th) stores in my area with NO luck. 🙁

    • Jen says

      Oh no! Sorry you are having such a hard time finding it Cecilia! I would replace wit with half and half and continue with the recipe as written. Should turn out great!

      • Cecilia says

        I’m making this tomorrow night super excited to try it out. Trying to shell my pistachios needed now with out eating them all!

        After I commented I also contacted Swanson to see if they could help me find it in my area, they told me they had discontinued the product. Just wanted to let you know! Thank you for editing the recipe for myself and others.

        • Jen says

          Hi Cecilia, thank you so much for letting me know it was discontinued – I had absolutely no idea! I am going to remake the sauce and perfect it so I can edit it without the cream starter. I hope you enjoyed this recipe and had enough pistachios after trying not to eat them all 🙂 totally been there 🙂

  9. Dani says

    What is the cream starter? I don’t think we have that in Canada. What could I use in its place? Is it a mixture of cream and chicken broth?

    • Jen says

      Hi Dani! I just updated the recipe to reflect that you can replace it with half and half or heavy cream – enjoy!

      • Dani says

        Thank you!! The recipe looks amazing!!

        • Jen says

          You are so welcome, I hope you love it!

  10. Nancy says

    This chicken is so delicious — it has all of my favorite things! Can’t wait to make it again.

    • Jen says

      Hi Nancy, I am so glad you loved it and I hope you can make it again soon! Thank you!

  11. Monica Abarca says

    This is another great recipe! The breading with the crunchy/melting gruyere is so delicious! Thank you for another awesome dish that will be in regular rotation at our house. Keep your recipes coming….we LOVE them! 🙂

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Monica for your awesome comment – it makes me so happy to hear your family is enjoying my recipes! I am thrilled you also loved this recipe and that it made the “regular rotation!” – the ultimate compliment!

  12. Jack says

    Hi, what can I substitute for the spicy brown mustard? I saw some suggestions online saying Dijon and Worcestershire but just wanted your opinion!

    • Jen says

      Hi Jack, yes Dijon with a splash of Worcestershire and horseradish will do the trick – or you can add a pinch of red pepper flakes. It is a small amount in this recipe, so shouldn’t change the flavor too much. Enjoy!

  13. Olivia says

    Hi-
    I couldn’t find the cream starter at my grocery store and instead of buying half and half I bought heavy whipping cream by accident. Will that make a huge difference in the sauce?

    • Jen says

      Heavy whipping cream will be delicious! It is just a little thicker and will work great!

  14. Jamie says

    I’d like to make this recipe today and wanted to clarify how much 1/2 and 1/2 cream to use in the sauce. Is it 1 and 1/2 cups or? Thanks

    • Jen says

      Yes, I’ll fix that, thanks!

  15. Stephanie says

    I made a Carlsbad Cravings Christmas Eve dinner with this incredible cordon bleu, your brown sugar~maple glazed carrots, and your herbed potato gratin. What an incredible dinner it was! The only change was I used pecans & thyme instead of pistachios & basil, for no other reason than I had the pecans already. I was going to make a basic cordon bleu but yours sounded amazing and I didn’t want to make a Christmas Eve trip to the store for pistachios. Cordon bleu is my young daughter’s favorite and thought this was one of her favorites ever made. The flavors were so much more in depth and rich than a traditional cordon bleu, such a lovely recipe!

    • Jen says

      I’m honored my recipes made the Christmas cut, thanks Stephanie! I’m so pleased you loved this chicken cordon bleu – it’s an oldie but goodie that I have been meaning to reshoot for some time- you might see an updated version for Valentine’s Day 😉

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